Fall in the Sea, Eventually: 2015 Hampton Beach Sand Sculptures

June 21, 2015 — Sometimes I want to do something without doing something. And visiting a sand sculpture competition fits that anti-desire perfectly. You hit the beach without hitting the beach. Check out some art without getting into the mindset of checking out art. Then you buy some funnel cake and head home to nap-watch edited cable movies the rest of the day because you’re quota of being active for the weekend was hit exactly.

New Hampshire has a very short ocean coast, and Hampton Beach is its one real beach town. Each year it invites about a dozen sculptors from across the U.S. and Canada to incarnate specially imported sand into something to attract cameras, all while surrounded by greasy, near-naked people who need something to do while they avoid the perpetually chilly waters of a New England beach. Winners split a purse of $15,000, and everybody gets a sun burn.

The sculptures are on view from the boardwalk, so you can avoid getting sand in your shoes, while event sponsors like McDonald’s hand out coffee in a tent shaped like a giant Happy Meal and people in blue Geico shirts stand in the shadow of a 9-foot-tall inflatable gecko cajoling people into signing up for a raffle.

My favorite sand sculpture this year, the seemingly H.R. Giger-inspired Entangled by Guy-Olivier Deveau of Kansas (just kiddingQuebec), came in second place. It was actually a horror sand sculpture that turned me on to the event back in 2012, when somebody created an awesome piece in homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing. There’s something about a beige abomination sitting placidly on a sunny beach surrounded by bikinis and volleyball nets that makes me happy.

The sculptures are supposed to be up through the first week of July, and are lit at night. But for those who are okay with instead seeing them two-dimensionally from their cellphone, here’s some sand posing in extremely non-sandy ways.

Together in the Game of Fate


BFF's :)
Winner of the People's Choice Award.

Leap of Faith

Sucker Punch
Winner of the Sculptor's Choice Award

First Place Winner. Apparently, and I didn't notice it at the time,
but the back of the sculpture depicts an old man.

Role Play
Third Place Winner

Flower Power

The only one I missed a photo of was the Native American-themed American Spirit. Also, bonus fun-fact: I had to straighten the watery horizons on every one of these photos in post. Just a crooked, crooked man.